Letter to the Editor: A solution to harassment of day laborers at Aurora Village

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Dear Editor:

After my wife and I accidentally crashed a ladder through an upstairs window we have realized that we are too old to wrestle ladders or work in high places.

Therefore, we have taken to hiring men from Aurora Village parking lot. Recently, Shoreline Police have been ever present, chasing the would-be helpers around.

It is difficult to find good, hard workers willing to tackle just about any task, especially on the spur of the moment. These guys are affordable and provide an important service to our communities. We know other citizens in Edmonds who have been very pleased to use day laborers.

While some merchants have complained about a few men who have caused problems we would appreciate a moratorium on police harassment until something more constructive can done.

Of the men we have hired recently to help re-shingle and repaint our home, two Mexican men and a Vietnamese man have been very reliable, hardworking, conscientious and skilled. They send money to support their families, and all spend money at Starbucks. At least one of the men has an account at the Bank of America (one of the most outspoken complainers.)

Here is an idea to try:

Have the cities of both Shoreline and Edmonds to establish a “casual labor corner” in a prominent location where laborers can wait for work. Somewhere near Home Depot, if possible. Put a high-visibility see-through fence around it and require a photo ID for all who wish to enter and wait there for work. If anyone acts irresponsibility, ban them from returning. Ask people looking for helpers to go first to the casual labor corner and to avoid hiring people from outside that corner.

We think this could be done in a way that absolves the merchants of responsibility for the behavior of the workers. The merchants would be providing a service to their shoppers and to the community.

Stopping police harassment of willing workers can allow us to “age in place,” maintain our homes, build a more humane and compassionate image for our cities, and generally enhance commerce.

The current approach doesn’t really work anyway, and gives one of our major shopping sites the appearance of a police state.

Sincerely,
Cliff Sanderlin & Heather Marks

11 COMMENTS

  1. Cliff and Heather,
    I have heard similar stories about the incredible work ethics of the many men that make their living getting work from the Aurora Village parking lot, or any parking lot for that matter. For me, I admire anyone who is willing to work hard and try hard, in whatever they do.
    I take issue with your idea that our local government should somehow sponsor or organize some sort of labor corner for these day laborers. To say nothing about the liability any city could be exposed to, you’re asking a local government to organize and run a business.
    I do believe they are filling a need in many areas and it’s nice to think that they spend some money here and are still able to help their families, but there is some risk to the person that hires them. I don’t think it’s a problem that needs a solution. Also, there are many local companies that offer services for home repair, if you can’t find someone from Aurora Village parking lot.

    Regards,
    Darrin Mock

  2. I’ve often thought how ironic that we have men begging for work around Home Depot and then go down to the stop light or freeway entrance and other men are begging for money. More power to those that want to work!!

  3. I telephone The Milionaires Club in Seattle, and pay a minimum of 4 hours labor through that organization. I pay for the insurance also so that I am covered and not liable. The hourly rate is reasonable and I collect the worker from the bus station near Costco, at Aurora. It’s a great organization and they vet the workers, who are happy to work and do a good job.

  4. Would it be safe for an elderly, single woman to hire one of these day laborers to do yard work? This would mean my picking them up by myself, in my car and bringing them to my home .. and I live alone. What should we pay these men? Is that agreed upon ahead of time?

  5. Not one of you have mentioned the expectation that day laborers or the people hiring them pay taxes that support our communities. How about going through a recognized day-labor business and/or non-profit who is working to support day-labor workers and do it in a legal manor. Before you hire someone off a street corner, ask yourself what liability would you carry if they were hurt on your property? If they do damage to your property, who will take financial responsibility? Are you supporting people who are in our country illegally, and taking jobs away from citizens who could be doing the work while paying taxes and supporting our society, not draining from it? Do you know their criminal history, could you be exposing your family/property to someone who could cause you harm? If you want to hire a day-laborer, do it through an existing reputable source, and for goodness sake stop complaining about police doing their job and asking businesses or government for another handout no neighborhood would want. Why would a business spend resources creating such a place? Would it help their bottom line (because that is the main purpose of owning a business)? Who would police whether those who enter have photo ID? Who would take on the liability of any of what you propose? Who would pay for the fences and property, as well as the maintenance of such a place? Are you not aware that Home Depot provides sub-contracting and installation services; this would be in direct competition of their services, thus taking away income from their tax-paying, insured and bonded employees and sub-contractors. The easiest solution to your personal problem is not necessarily the best for the community. If you can not afford to pay someone, contact your local Boy Scouts or church.

  6. Yes, safety is always a first concern with ANYONE you might hire to enter your property and home and that isn’t different no matter where you hire from…… really!

    but this sounds
    more like bias against non white day laborers because they are the ones standing there. I don’t recall seeing any white day laborers there. I don’t recall any white day laborers standing there waiting to be hired so they can support their families or eat.

    I would like to add that Ted Bundy looked real good and even worked for Evans……….and Gary Ridgeway worked for a large reputable business……. Sooooo, you can’t always tell a book by its cover or the color of its cover.

    I don’t recall hearing of any day laborers in the area we are talking about committing any crimes against any residents of Edmonds

    “people in our country illegally, draining from society, don’t pay taxes, no financial stability, taking jobs away from citizens who could be doing the work, someone who could cause you harm”, etc.

    Those statements above are ALWAYS used when defending BIAS and PREJUDICE……easy to research

    And speaking of “Boy Scouts” and “Church” there is no less opportunity for unsafe situations that can come up……..easy to research. ALL can be researched

  7. There is an organization based in Seattle, Casa Latina, where immigrants can learn to speak English, find jobs, obtain health care and so forth. Here is a link to the organization’s website: http://casa-latina.org/about-us. Anyone interested in hiring an immigrant may use the organization’s website to do so.

    I agree with Tere Ryder’s point statements regarding racial profiling. Her examples of murderersTed Bundy and Gary Ridgeway (both are white men) are spot on.

    Tere, thank you for speaking out!

  8. We own a tree service business in north Seattle. We hire men who are citizens. We pay L and I, Social Security, Medicare, and Federal taxes. We pay for their medical insurance. We pay them a living wage so they can support families. We are licensed, bonded, and insured. In other words, both our employees and our customers are protected. Those who hire “day laborers” avoid sharing the responsibilities that all of us should share, they put themselves and their hirees at risk, and they are helping to put citizens out of work.

    • Judy,
      I appreciate your comment and commend you for taking care of your employees. However, I think there is a special niche for people who work a day at a time, on the spur of the moment. The guys I’ve hired do not want a long-term job and I don’t need anyone for the long term. Just a day or two here and there. They are not stealing work from others that I know of, and those I’ve checked are here legally.

      I treat these guys well: pick them up, feed them, pay them $15 an hour, give them respect (they are often starved for praise), and I don’t deduct lunch or other breaks from their hours. If I had enough work to justify a real hiring situation, I would do that. But for occasional brief projects it does not make sense for me to go through the bureaucratic stuff. Those who violate the trespassing rules are most likely very hungry, literally. One that I hired for a day had not eaten for several days.

  9. Just because someone doesn’t speak English doesn’t say anything about their immigration status at all. If you haven’t seen their papers, you have no idea what their legal citizenship is, regardless of what they look or sound like.
    Paying day laborers without paying taxes. Not providing for their safety ( L&I) in case they are injured and cannot work. And making assumptions about someone’s legal status in order to feel good about using cheap labor is just wrong headed. Those gents ( the day laborers) are taking a bigger risk than anyone who hires them. They know nothing about you, assume the risk of injury and are being hired by people wanting more than they are willing to pay for using legal means.

  10. Thanks to all for your comments and suggestions! They’re very helpful. I will check out the Millionaire Club (didn’t realize the workers would come by bus; thought you had to drive into Seattle to pick them up.) For some reason the guys I’ve hired don’t like Casa Latina. I am probably more comfortable hiring Latinos since I have lived in S. America (Peace Corps) and speak the languages, mas o menos….. I just hate to see good people of color who are hungry and eager to work being chased around by cops while white people across the street are begging for handouts. Our country owes a LOT to the immigrants who harvest our crops and work in other areas that our own culture eschews.

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